Are there really castles in the Caribbean? Of course! Many were built during the colonial era in order to protect the key cities and coastlines. Others exist purely because someone thought, “What could be better than a castle by the sea?“
Hundreds of castles and forts dot the coasts of the Caribbean islands. Built in colonial times, they hearken back to days gone by and remind visitors of the islands’ rich history.
Although some are now in ruins, others have been rebuilt, and a few are replicas, you can learn much from visiting castles in the Caribbean. However, besides learning, you’ll undoubtedly have a wonderful time feeling like royalty as you stand in ancient towers and terraces overlooking the vast ocean.
Some Caribbean castles have complicated, intriguing pasts, with twisting tales of conquerors and pirates, rulers and royals. Step inside one of these mysterious forts and find out its history for yourself!
1. Blackbeard’s Castle (Skytsborg Tower)
This 40 ft tower was built by the Danes in 1679. As it offered 360 degree views of the harbor, they used it as a watchtower to protect the island of St. Thomas from invaders. Legend has it that one of those invaders was Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who ruled the seas in the 1700s. Named one of the five historic landmarks in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it was originally called Skytsborg Tower. Today, a tour will take you up 99 steps to see incredible views of the harbor as you listen to tales of Blackbeard and other pirates.
2. A Castle for Sale (St. Croix)
Anyone want to purchase a castle for sale? There’s one on the market in St. Croix , which belongs to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Moorish-style fortress was designed by Bulgarian Contessa Nadia Farber, a philanthropist living in New York who wanted a Caribbean vacation home to stay in four months out of the year. It went up for sale in 2016, after the Contessa passed away. Arguably, the view of the sea from Castle Aura, as it is sometimes called, is one of the best on the island.
3. Citadelle Laferrière (Haiti)
This mountaintop fortress has become a symbol of freedom in Haiti. Built in 1820, it was designed to protect the country from French invaders. It once contained large storehouses for food and an elaborate water system. Deep in the heart of a wild and green national park, this castle is a popular tourist attraction. In addition, you’ll see it on posters, stamps, and even currency. UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 1982.
4. Morro Castle (Havana)
This fortress, built in 1589, is one of the oldest castles in the Caribbean. It stands on rocky cliffs guarding the coast of Old Havana in Cuba. Designed to protect the city from invaders, it was captured by the British in 1762. However, they returned it to the Spanish under a treaty the following year.
The views from the fort are spectacular, and the best time to visit is at sunset. Every night at 9 pm, a reenactment takes place, in which men dressed as Spanish soldiers fire cannons into the night.
5. Castillo de San Felipe del Morro (Puerto Rico)
Perched high on rocky cliffs jutting out into the Caribbean Sea, Castillo de San Felipe del Morro is an incredibly well preserved fortress on the island of Puerto Rico. Built by Spaniards in the 16th century, it guards the entrance to the San Juan Bay. Along with the rest of San Juan’s historic district, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. The large stone structure now contains a museum and is open to the public daily.
6. Sam Lord’s Castle (Barbados)
Sam Lord built this incredible Georgian mansion on the island of Barbados in 1820. A seafaring buccaneer, Lord was notorious for plundering ships. Tales say that he lured them into the hazardous coastal reefs by hanging lanterns on his palm trees. Deceived into thinking they had arrived at Bridgetown, the hapless sailors would wreck their ships on the reef, where Lord would plunder them.
Years later, the castle was converted into a luxurious hotel. However, a 2010 fire destroyed much of the interior. The castle is currently under restoration, and a new hotel is reportedly slated to be opened there in 2020.
7. Azzurra Castle (Grenada)
Azzurra Castle is a Moorish style fortress owned by international yachtsman and philanthropist Peter de Savary. Nowadays, it is available to rent. The complex includes 7 bedrooms and 2 dining areas and has all the amenities you would expect in a castle. We’re guessing it’s pricey, but a few days spent there would definitely bring out your inner royal!
8. Castle in Las Galeras Samanà (Dominican Republic)
This small but breathtaking seaside castle in the Dominican Republic is a private home built to look like a 15th century fortress. The property is currently up for sale, listed at 2.5 million dollars. With rooftop gardens, sparkling pools, and easy access to white sand beaches, this castle is more than worth the price.
Your fairy tale Caribbean castle awaits…
Most people won’t stay in an actual castle in the Caribbean during their vacation. However, there’s always the next best thing– a private villa! Find your perfect accommodations at Key Caribe. We’ve got the keys to the perfect Caribbean vacation– where the only thing you’ll need to worry about is which one of our hundreds of luxury villas to choose!
Read all about some of our favorite locations here: